Bowel Cancer Australia today released initial findings from the first national My Colonoscopy Experience questionnaire. The questionnaire opened in September 2018 at the same time as the Colonoscopy Clinical Care Standard, created by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC).

 While the Standard was a welcome first step in outlining the care people who have a colonoscopy should receive, it did not contain specific indicators to measure the patient’s experience.

“Communicating the unique patient perspective is vital for understanding how to make services better and safer for patients,” said Bowel Cancer Australia CEO Julien Wiggins.

“As more and more people share their experience, findings will help shape Bowel Cancer Australia’s initiatives and can be used more broadly as a valuable resource to inform policy, programs, and investment in colonoscopy quality and care,” Mr Wiggins said.

The responses from approximately 1,500 women and men across the country ranging in age from 18 to over 75 years old, who had recently undergone colonoscopy provide unique insights not previously reported.

Some of the better aspects of the colonoscopy experience highlighted by respondents included:

  • clear information about what to expect at each stage;
  • provision of guidance regarding the post-procedure process; and
  • feelings of trust and confidence in staff.     

Areas for improvement highlighted by respondents indicated:

  • the referral process should be more proactive and timelier;
  • more choice should be made available in terms of bowel prep; and
  • all relevant information in the colonoscopy report should be reviewed with the patient.

Nine in ten respondents (94%) said a wait time of “less than 1 month” is about right, but most respondents (59%) waited more than the recommended 30 days from referral before receiving their colonoscopy.

Three in ten (32%) respondents indicated they waited more than two months; nearly one in ten of those (7%) reported waiting six months or more.

Respondents receiving their colonoscopy within the public health system reported waiting on average 2.5 months (150% longer than recommended by the World Health Organisation).

"Proactive and timely referral is imperative, especially for symptomatic patients and is something that Bowel Cancer Australia continues to actively campaign for," Mr Wiggins said.

Bowel preparation required for colonoscopy was cited regularly as the key area for improvement.

When asked what could have made the experience better, most respondents’ comments (41%) related to improving the bowel prep experience.

Nearly all respondents (97%) felt information about how to prepare for their colonoscopy was clear; however, most respondents (83%) were not offered a choice regarding the type of bowel prep medicine given.

Two in five (41%) respondents mentioned they would have liked more options.

Private hospital patients rated their experiences more positively than public hospital patients throughout the process, but both private and public hospital patients indicated the best part of their colonoscopy experience was positive interactions with staff (36%).

“With 1.1 million colonoscopies to be performed in Australia in 2020 – 21, the My Colonoscopy Experience questionnaire will remain open indefinitely – because every patient’s feedback about their colonoscopy experience is unique and valuable.


To share your experience, visit

For more information, download the report.